By James Neal, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Low-income families with no medical insurance will continue to receive care at Enid Community Clinic thanks to some robust fundraising at this year’s Enid Charity Ball.
The community clinic, located at 1106 E. Broadway, was established in 1995 with the mission to “provide a wide range of health care services to medically underserved patients” in Enid and Garfield County.
Volunteer doctors, nurses and pharmacists see 50 to 60 people every Tuesday evening during clinic hours, and another 20 to 25 patients each Thursday morning during the nurses’ clinic.
The clinic has been financially supported by Enid Charity Ball since 1997, when the ball was founded by Northwest Oklahoma Osteopathic Foundation.
Steve Whitfill, the foundation’s executive director, said the charity ball was a natural fit in its mission of promoting health care in northwest Oklahoma and representing osteopathic medicine.
“A lot of our doctors are involved with the Enid Community Clinic as volunteers, and others want to support it financially,” Whitfill said.
He said the charity ball gives members of the foundation and concerned residents another way to support the clinic.
That help is important, Whitfill said, because many people in Enid do not have insurance or the funds to pay for their health care “out of pocket.”
“There are so many people in our community who don’t have the resources they need to seek or receive the medical help they need, and this is an option for them here,” Whitfill said.
This year’s Enid Charity Ball raised a record $60,844 to support the community clinic. Enid Charity Ball committee co-chairs Cindy and Todd Earl presented a check for that amount Tuesday to Cherokee Strip Community Foundation to benefit the community clinic.
Cindy Earl said the record fundraising amount came from ticket sales, table sponsorships and a benefit auction at the charity ball. The event drew in 130 attendees for an evening of dining, music and dancing.
“It’s probably one of the most fun events of the year,” Cindy said. “It’s a lot of fun, and people want to come back every year.”
Todd Earl said the annual charity ball has attracted “very loyal sponsors and donors” who are dedicated to supporting the clinic’s mission.
“There are more than 2,000 members of our community who have no other health care options because they don’t have the resources, and they’re able to get the care they need here because of the doctors and members of our health care community who come in here and volunteer their time,” he said. “This is a wonderful health care option for people in our community who don’t have other options. This is the way health care should be done.”
Todd Earl also is the president of Cherokee Strip Community Foundation, which administers endowment funds for Enid Community Clinic and other local nonprofits.
Earl said the clinic still is able to operate off fundraising from previous charity balls, and the long-term goal is to build an endowment large enough that the clinic could operate off of the interest earnings.
Cherokee Strip Community Foundation Executive Director Ashley Ewbank said the community foundation model is an ideal way to manage and grow nonprofit funds.
“We are here to be a resource to support all the nonprofits in Enid, and the Enid Community Clinic is an incredible asset to the entire community,” Ewbank said. “We’re just happy to be able to provide these endowment opportunities.”
Fundraising for Enid Community Clinic also is supported by Integris Bass Baptist Health Center, which has served as title sponsor for the Enid Charity Ball for five years.
“We understand the importance of the Enid Community Clinic in our community,” said Anita Luetkemeyer, director of public relations at Integris Bass Baptist Health Center. “We are pleased to play a role in support of the clinic and its dedicated staff of volunteers that make a difference in the lives of countless individuals and families right here in Enid. Without the clinic, many Enid residents would be without any access to health care.
“We look forward to continuing our support of the clinic and of the Enid Charity Ball for years to come.”
Integris and St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center also support the clinic with X-ray and lab services.
The clinic is able to stretch its operating budget and run solely off of community donations, because the clinic has no paid staff.
“We are one of the few free clinics in the nation and one of the only ones in Oklahoma that runs on an all-volunteer staff,” said Enid Community Clinic coordinator Janet Cordell.
She said the dedication of the charity ball committee, Northwest Oklahoma Osteopathic Foundation and Cherokee Strip Community Foundation allow the clinic staff to concentrate on medical care instead of fundraising.
“One of the things I appreciate so much about the charity ball is it allows me to do what I as a health care professional trained to do and studied to do, which is care for patients,” Cordell said. “I don’t have to do fundraising, I don’t have to go out there knocking on doors to raise funds.
“We’re able to focus on health care in here, because that fundraising is taken care of by interested citizens who care about their community.”
Enid Community Clinic is open most Tuesdays beginning at 5 p.m. and most Thursdays for nurses’ clinic and dietitian services 9-11 a.m.
To be eligible for care at the clinic patients must be a resident of Garfield County, have a household income at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty level and have no other health insurance, including Medicare or Medicaid.
The clinic provides services in primary care, medications, patient education, acute health problems and chronic health problems.
For more information on clinic services or to volunteer contact the clinic at (580) 233-5300.
Donations to support the clinic’s operations can be sent to Enid Community Clinic at 1106 E. Broadway.
The 16th annual Enid Charity Ball will take place Aug. 24, 2013, at Oakwood Country Club.